boys and girls club

Here Are the Top Character and Leadership Programs at BGCA

boysandgirlsclubOver the course of its 150-plus-year history, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has built a full suite of programs designed to help kids and teens excel in school and lead healthy, productive lives. With more than 4,600 Clubs in US cities and military installations worldwide, the organization offers programs in various areas, including education, health and wellness, sports, and the arts. A core focus of BGCA’s work is on instilling character and leadership skills among its 4.7 million members.

BGCA’s efforts to create 21st-century leaders have been very successful. In fact, 75 percent of its regular members report having volunteered in their communities at least once in the previous year. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Club youth report volunteering at least once per month. In addition to volunteering their time, BGCA members demonstrate good character through their willingness to stand up for what is right while ensuring that those around them feel important.

The ultimate goal of BGCA’s character and leadership programs is to help youth become caring and responsible citizens with the decision-making and planning skills needed to contribute positively to their local Club and greater communities. Read on to learn more about these impactful programs and initiatives.

 

Keystone Club

Much of BGCA’s character and leadership work is carried out in its Keystone Clubs. Designed for youth ages 14 to 18, Keystone Club is a national program that focuses on service and leadership and gives participants the opportunity to volunteer in

their communities. Under the guidance of an adult supervisor, youth engage in activities aimed at academic success and career preparation.

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Along with after-school activities, Keystone Club members participate in the BGCA-hosted National Keystone Conference. This annual multi-day event brings teen leaders and adult advisors from across the country together for activities focused on various social issues. More than 1,500 people took part in the 2019 Keystone Conference, which covered a range of topics, including school violence, mental health, and gender identity.

The National Keystone Conference and Keystone Clubs across the country are supported in large part through the generosity of Aaron’s, Inc. In 2018, the lease-purchase retailer’s giving division, Aaron’s Foundation, renewed its partnership with Keystone Clubs and BGCA via a three-year, $5-million commitment. The money will be used to fund the Keystone Conference and provide renovations of Clubs nationwide.

 

Million Members, Million Hours of Service

As its name suggests, Million Members, Million Hours of Service (MMMHS) is a BGCA initiative that aims to engage 1 million Club members in 1 million hours of community service each year. In addition to helping Club youth become more productive, service-oriented citizens, MMMHS benefits participants by promoting positive relationships and assisting them in avoiding risky behavior. Studies have also shown that youth who engage in service perform better academically and are less likely to drop out of high school.

The list of BGCA partners that have supported MMMHS includes the Citi Foundation, a group that backed past signature service events such as United We Serve: Summer of Service. BGCA continues to host service activities as part of MMMHS, but Club members are encouraged to host their own service projects throughout the year.

 

Torch Club

Referred to as “the club within the Club,” Torch Club was created to help adolescents ages 11 to 13 develop leadership skills as well as good character and integrity. Boys and girls who participate in local Torch Club programs elect leadership officers and work together to organize and implement various activities. These activities focus on service to Club and community, health and fitness, social recreation, and education. Torch Club members across the country are also invited to engage in a service-learning experience as part of the annual National Torch Club Project.

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Corporate supporters of Torch Club include Old Navy, which raises money for the national program via its annual back-to-school donation drive. In addition, Old Navy employees volunteer their time to Torch Clubs nationwide. Samsung Electronics America is also a Torch Club supporter. Each year, the company sponsors the Climate Superstars Challenge, which has eligible Torch Clubs competing to win Samsung products.

 

Youth of the Year

Since its beginnings as a grassroots initiative in the late 1940s, Youth of the Year has grown to become BGCA’s signature leadership development program. To become the Youth of the Year, a Club teen must advance through local, state, and regional events. Winners are chosen because they exemplify the BGCA mission and showcase the organization’s ability to help youth reach their full potential as responsible, productive, and caring citizens.

In addition to selecting one exceptional Club member as the National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide involve more members in the program as part of its Youth of the Month component. Meanwhile, younger Club members ages 11 to 13 are recognized through the Junior Youth of the Year program.

In 2019, six outstanding young men and women were chosen as finalists for National Youth of the Year. The award was ultimately given to Sabrina M., a Barnard College freshman who has been a Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco member for over 12 years. She was honored during a special gala and celebration dinner in Washington, DC, and will now serve as the national teen spokesperson for Club youth.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

MOPHlogo

This Is What You Need to Know about the Purple Heart Medal

In 1957, the Purple Heart Foundation was established as the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), a congressionally chartered veterans organization comprising a membership body of Purple Heart recipients. Today, the Foundation and MOPH continue to oversee and support a range of programs that help veterans recover and prosper following military service.

To gain a better appreciation of these two organizations and the decorated military members they serve, take a look at these 10 facts about the Purple Heart medal:

 

  1. The Purple Heart is the oldest military honor in the US.

While it took many more years to evolve into its current look and name, the Purple Heart has a history dating back to the 1780s. Its predecessor, the Badge of Military Merit, was established by President George Washington in 1782. After the medal fell into disuse, General Douglas MacArthur led efforts to revive the honor in the early 1930s, creating the modern-day Purple Heart.

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  1. The medal was first awarded during the Revolutionary War.

Elijah Churchill and William Brown of the Continental Army are most commonly credited as being the first Purple Heart recipients. Of course, the two soldiers received the honor under its original title, the Badge of Military Merit. The first modern-day Purple Heart was awarded to the man who helped create it, General Douglas MacArthur.

 

  1. It was the first military award for lower-ranking soldiers.

Prior to the establishment of the Purple Heart’s predecessor, military honors were typically reserved for officers credited with significant victories in battle. President Washington created the Badge of Military Merit specifically to honor the outstanding service of enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers among his troops.

 

  1. Animals are among the list of Purple Heart recipients.

In its long history, the Purple Heart has been awarded to four-legged recipients. During WWI, a dog named Stubby was awarded two Purple Hearts for his actions with the 102nd Infantry Regiment. A horse named Reckless also received the honor twice for wounds she incurred during the Korean War. Military service animals aren’t currently eligible for the Purple Heart, however.

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  1. Many well-known individuals have received the honor.

Over the years, the Purple Heart has been bestowed upon many people who are well-known for their civilian achievements. This includes politicians such as John Kerry and John McCain, writers and filmmakers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Oliver Stone, and actors such as Charles Bronson and James Garner.

 

  1. The Purple Heart has been awarded to only one US president.

Politicians at all levels of government are among the list of Purple Heart recipients. However, the list of US presidents who have earned the honor contains only one individual: John F. Kennedy.

As a Navy reserve lieutenant during WWII, Kennedy was injured during a boat collision near the Solomon Islands. Despite the injury to his back, he managed to swim to shore and save another soldier. In addition to the Purple Heart, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for this act.

 

  1. More Purple Hearts were awarded during WWII than any other conflict.

John F. Kennedy is among a large group of over 1 million people who earned the Purple Heart for their actions during WWII. In total, 1.07 million of the medals were awarded during the war, which is more than all that were awarded in all other 20th-century conflicts combined.

 

  1. Purple Hearts weren’t always reserved exclusively for injured or mortally wounded service members.

Today, the Purple Heart medal is only awarded to military personnel who are injured or killed during a hostile encounter with enemy forces, but this wasn’t always the case. Originally, the honor could be bestowed on anyone who provided a “meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity” during military action, regardless of whether or not they were injured.

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  1. The record for the most Purple Hearts awarded to one individual is in the double digits.

Although a number of service members have earned more than one Purple Heart, the record for the most Purple Hearts in US military history belongs to Curry T. Haynes. During the Vietnam War, the member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the 503rd Army Infantry received a series of injuries that later earned him 10 Purple Hearts. Haynes’ injuries occurred as the result of gunfire, grenades, and a B-40 rocket.

 

  1. Purple Heart Day honors Purple Heart recipients.

On August 7, government agencies, current and former service members, veterans’ organizations, and other groups come together to take part in National Purple Heart Day, which was first observed in 2014. This special day of observance gives people the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who have been injured or killed while serving their country. Ways to get involved include attending an event or donating to groups such as the Purple Heart Foundation.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

medical science

A Look at 10 AHA-Backed Research Breakthroughs

AmericanHeartAssociationOver the course of nearly 100 years, the American Heart Association (AHA) has maintained a commitment to fighting heart disease and stroke by educating health professionals and the general public about the best ways to improve cardiovascular health. The organization’s work is also largely focused on supporting and advancing cardiovascular research. Since its inception in 1924, the AHA has invested over $4.1 billion into research projects and initiatives, which is more than any other US-based nonprofit organization.

Over the years, the AHA’s funding has supported a number of research breakthroughs in the areas of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Many of these research breakthroughs have helped to improve global health by advancing understanding and/or treatment of heart- and vascular-related issues. In order to provide a better understanding of the AHA’s impact on health care worldwide, here is a brief look at 10 groundbreaking research projects that were backed by funding from the AHA:

 

  1. Study on Diuretics and Blood Pressure

In 1949, AHA-funded research helped Dr. Alfred Farah to pioneer the study of how diuretics affect heart and kidney function. His research into diuretics, which help to control blood pressure by ridding the body of excess water and sodium, led to advancements in the pharmacological treatment of heart disease. Diuretics are still considered one of the best classes of drugs for controlling blood pressure and treating heart failure.

 

  1. Research on Dietary Fat and Cholesterol

Before the 1950s, there was little understanding of the link between dietary fat and serum cholesterol levels. This changed after the AHA backed research led by Dr. Ancel Keys, a physiologist who spearheaded what has become known as the Seven Countries Study. The study linked fat and cholesterol for the first time and led to dietary recommendations that remain in place today.

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  1. Pacemaker Research

The earliest advancements in pacemaker technology and research were supported by the AHA. In 1957, Dr. William Weirich used the first pacemaker to treat a patient with heart blockage. His work on early battery-operated wearable pacemakers led to the creation of today’s fully implanted pacemaker devices.

 

  1. Artificial Heart Valves

In addition to pacemakers, the AHA helped to support the advancement of artificial heart valves, which were first developed by Dr. Albert Starr and Lowell Edwards. The pair’s work in the 1960s has had long-lasting effects. Over the years, the Starr-Edwards valve, which is still used today to help people with diseased heart valves, has saved millions of lives.

 

  1. CPR Research

Widely known as the fathers of CPR, physicians James Jude, Guy Knickerbocker, and William Kouwenhoven pioneered the use of external cardiac massage with the support of AHA funding. Research into the lifesaving potential of CPR was first reported in 1961 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

 

  1. Advancement of Microsurgery

Used across a range of surgical disciplines, microsurgery was first performed by Dr. Julius Jacobson in the early 1960s. His work, which was funded in part by the AHA, has led to widespread advancements in surgical practices.

 

  1. The Work of Biochemist Mildred Cohn

For 14 years, the AHA provided funding to support the research activities of Mildred Cohn, the AHA’s first female career investigator. Cohn was a pioneer in the use of new technologies to study and measure organic chemical changes. Her work as a biochemist contributed greatly to the understanding of nuclear magnetic resonance. It also led to the development of new medical technologies, including nuclear magnetic resonance, which remains one of the most advanced imaging methods in use today.

 

  1. Blood Pressure Research

With the help of AHA funding, Dr. Maurice Sokolow led a 20-year study that examined the effects of high blood pressure. The results of his study, which were published in 1966, showed that chronic high blood pressure reduces one’s life expectancy and can lead to various complications affecting the heart and other areas of the body. Dr. Sokolow also designed and built one of the first portable blood pressure recorders, which helped to advance later blood pressure studies.

 

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  1. Children’s Heart Health

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat respiratory distress syndrome, which affects premature infants with defects of the heart and lungs. The drug, Exosurf Neonatal, was developed by Dr. John Clements, who served as an AHA Career Investigator for decades. In later years, the AHA continued its work in the area of children’s heart health by partnering with the Children’s Heart Foundation to provide $22.5 million for research into congenital heart defects.

 

  1. Study on Oxygen and Physiology Function

Over the years, the AHA has supported several researchers who went on to earn the Nobel Prize for their work. One of the most recent is Dr. Gregg L. Semenza, a John Hopkins University researcher who received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries related to the interplay between cell metabolism, physiological function, and oxygen availability. Since 1993, Dr. Semenza’s Nobel Prize-winning work has been supported by funding from the AHA.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

jogging exercise

A Complete Look at the AHA’s Latest Diet and Lifestyle Tips

For nearly a century, the American Heart Association (AHA) has been focused on helping people live healthier lives. The organization does this by supporting research and advancing treatments in the areas of cardiovascular and stroke care.

In addition, the AHA serves as a public resource for people looking to better their health through diet and lifestyle choices. Keep reading to learn more about the AHA’s most recent diet and lifestyle recommendations.

 

Focus on Nutrition from All the Food Groups

For many people, eating enough food is not a problem, but they may still lack some of the vital nutrients needed to make them feel their best. To ensure that you’re getting the right nutrition, the AHA recommends that you follow a diet comprising healthy food choices from every food group. This includes a variety of fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack. The AHA also reminds people that all forms of vegetables are great options, including those that are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

In addition to promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, the AHA recommends that people make whole grains, skinless fish and poultry, low-fat dairy products, and nuts and legumes a part of their daily diet. Moreover, beans and other legumes can be especially beneficial because they are a great source of protein, minerals, and fiber, but they don’t contain the saturated fat found in some animal proteins. Beans can also help you feel full longer and may even reduce blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Finally, the AHA reminds people that healthier fats should be included as part of a well-rounded diet. These include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been associated with better heart health. The AHA points out that some great sources of these types of fats are certain cooking oils, including olive, canola, safflower, and soybean.

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Read Nutrition Labels and Cut out the Junk Food

As many people know, following a healthy diet is as much about what you don’t eat as it is about what you do eat. The AHA recommends carefully reading nutrition labels to avoid foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients. Reading nutrition labels is the best way to avoid consuming high levels of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, which have all been tied to heart disease.

To make it easier for people to identify nutrient-dense foods while avoiding junk calories, the AHA provides a nutrition label guide on its website. The guide outlines each section of the Nutrition Facts label, from the “Amount per Serving” information at the top to the “% Daily Value” at the bottom.

Finally, the AHA reminds consumers that the information shown on the Nutrition Facts label is based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet, which is a baseline target that is not appropriate for everyone.

 

Burn the Calories You Take in

Knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking each day to maintain your weight is based on several factors, including your age, gender, and level of physical activity. The AHA points out that avoiding weight gain can be as simple as burning at least as many calories as you consume each day. To help keep the weight off, you can burn more calories by increasing the amount and/or intensity of your physical activity.

As a baseline, the AHA suggests that all people aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. The AHA’s recommendations are based on the 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Scientific evidence supports that there is a strong connection between physical activity and healthy weight as well as disease prevention and overall health and well-being.

The AHA offers several tips to add more activity to your daily routine. This includes parking farther away from your destination and opting to take the stairs rather than the elevator. The AHA also outlines several options for both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities. Brisk walking, dancing, and gardening all fall into the moderate-intensity category, while activities such as running, jumping rope, and cycling over 10 miles per hour are all considered vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises.

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Avoid Tobacco/Vaping

For many years, the AHA has been working hard to help people quit tobacco, a product that puts them at a much higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Today, in addition to focusing on traditional tobacco products, the AHA warns against the dangers of vaping, which health officials have recently connected to many cases of serious medical problems. To help people avoid the dangerous health effects associated with tobacco and vaping, the AHA raises awareness of the dangers and provides tips for quitting.

The organization’s five steps to quit smoking are as follows:

  1. Set your “Quit Day.”
  2. Choose your quitting method.
  3. Talk to your doctor for assistance.
  4. Make a plan for going forward after quitting.
  5. Quit tobacco for good starting with your Quit Day.

More information about these steps and the AHA’s other tips for healthy living are available at www.heart.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.